TUESDAY, MAY 12, 2015
Image: Mick Rock. Jim Blackwood at Howell Hill Nature Reserve, Surrey, proves it’s easier to photograph an orchid than a butterfly – but you still have to look carefully.
God is at work in renewal – in ‘new things’
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
WHAT IS God doing in our world and our time? This bears on one of the best questions people exploring the Christian faith commonly ask: “If God is real and present and loving, where is He? Why do we see so much hatred, prejudice and injustice?
It is a profound question which should not be batted aside with a glib answer. However, there are strands to explore which begin to reveal answers. To narrow the question, to first ask what God is doing in our world, is a helpful start.
It’s all about where you look and what you have eyes to see. A measure of faith helps us ’see’ more. When we are limited to the evidence of our own eyes and the news channels, it’s like trying to observe wildlife and emerging flowers on your suburban commuter route. You would need a very good eye to do that.
I have a couple of friends who are nature photographers, and they regularly post images of butterflies, orchids, birds and landscape highlights.
For the last you have to get out when the light is right – often early morning or evening.
For the flora and lepidoptera (is that the right word for butterflies?) you have to get down there where they are. The image is of a very backside view of men with ‘proper’ cameras, locked in prone position while the target flits away.
You can see it if you persevere in looking for it.
God is at work in friendships of leaders of different churches who used to be competitive, and in the growing respect and understanding among those of different faiths – muslims and Christians, for example. God is at work in food banks, in winter-time night shelters and those who volunteer for overnight shifts manning them, in drug and alcohol education, in prisons and help for released ex prisoners, and in a million daily small acts of mercy that hardly anyone notices. God is also at work in sharing faith and growing disciples and the renewal of church congregations in pews to become transformed as an army of mission.
None of this makes headlines because people who have experienced God’s love, expressing that love to others, is not considered news. It is not going to compete on a busy newsdesk that is looking for controversy or difficulty for the day’s top stories.
However, God IS at work in less newsworthy, but not less worthy, ways. While parts of His church are visibly dying, others parts which may be less street-corner prominent are growing strongly. This is where God is doing a new thing. He is transforming His people within these older and unfashionable buildings and at the same time, turning it all inside out where it can bring life to the desert.
• Where might God be doing a new thing in a way that takes a little searching out?